November 14th, 2008
10:46 AM ET
11 years ago

GOP senator: McCain betrayed Republican principles

A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday.

A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday.

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on Friday became one of the first high-profile Republicans to publicly criticize John McCain following his electoral defeat, blaming the Arizona senator for betraying conservative principles in his quest for the White House.

The conservative senator, speaking to a group of GOP officials gathered in Myrtle Beach at a conference on the future of the Republican Party, described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which, according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government.

"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain," he said.

DeMint offered a long list of complaints about McCain's record in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

Bush and Stevens, he said, had corrupted the party brand by expanding the size of government and engaging in wasteful government spending. Had Republicans not strayed from their core beliefs in recent years, DeMint argued, the election results might have been different.

"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."

DeMint said he would introduce a Senate resolution next week to boot Stevens out of the Republican caucus, and "force votes" on Senate seniority rules that have allowed certain members to hold onto power. However, DeMint twice confused Ted Stevens with Ted Kennedy, drawing chuckles from the audience of Republicans, who hold neither senator in particularly high regard.

"One of our principles is that power corrupts, and you need to disperse it," DeMint said. "And if our own party allows ourselves to be destroyed by this idea, and are not willing to stand up, then we have to change everyone at the top."

Filed under: Extra • Jim DeMint • John McCain • South Carolina • Ted Stevens
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Phoenix

    No, he didn't. Republicans got off course when they began to embrace bigots.

    November 15, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  2. Sally

    Poor John McCain. Just a few months ago he was "the war hero", the "only candidate to vote for in this election". Now, (I swore NEVER to use the bus phrase), the GOP has boarded the Greyhound, kicked McCain to the ground, and collectively started singing, the wheels on the bus go round and round. I didn't like the way the McCain campaign was handled, I didn't vote for McCain. But, there were times during the election that the real McCain poked through, and I would think, where isTHAT McCain? I liked that one.
    Apparently, the GOP didn't get the memo that American's actually DON'T want their brand of conservatism. And, I bet within the next 4 years, the religious right is going to remind us why we didn't vote for them in 2008, and why we won't vote them in 2012.

    November 15, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  3. David Newport, OR

    I differ in this opinion. I believe that the behavior he is citing is actually the behavior of the Republican party as a whole. In the past they have just been better at hiding it. The Bush legacy is that it is OK to blatantly defraud the constitution. All that has happened is that the party's ego got ahead of itself and they stopped hiding their true nature. Americans saw for the first time, where the direction of the Republican party is heading and soundly answered, this is not the type of country I want my children raised in.

    November 15, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  4. ladybug

    You republicans are so old and out of touch it is shameful. How can you tell us, "The American People", what we want? Didn't "The American People" show you on November 4, 2008? Your bigotry and divisiveness will keep you in the wilderness for many, many, years. You have no ideas. This is 2008 and the future has moved on without you stale republicans with your stale out-dated "southern strategy" ideas. All the republican party stands for is pro-life, low taxes, cut government spending. What message of hope and progress is that? We are all adults and can decide for ourselves; we are not a country of "one issue" voters; that would be your religous right wing fanatics. The republicans have destroyed this country financially with that failed philisophy of "trickle down". Wall Street got rich off of us, the taxpayers. And now, you republicans want to give our 700B to continue their "party" while we suffer financially. I hope the backlash is great as you watch the workers that still have jobs loose them as George W. Bush sits by, as usual, and does NOTHING. You bailed out wall street, why not main street? Answer that...............

    November 15, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  5. revbgary

    Republicans are true to only one principle: government should do whatever will enrich the richest Americans, who will then pay for the ads about abortion and gays that will get the rest of us to vote for them. This is the hidden thread behind shifting Republican positions. Is state interference in the economy bad or good? It is bad when it keeps the rich from getting richer, good when it protects the rich. So regulation, bad, bail outs, good. It all makes sense when you realize that only the rich matter to the Republicans.

    November 15, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  6. Ed

    It is the Republican brand of religious right wing extremism that scared many of my Republican friends to vote for Obama. They were simply tired of a party that forgot its economic conservative roots in favor of evangelical religious intolerance. The Republicans are adept at claiming to oppose abortion and gun control legislation. However, if you take a closer look at them you really must ask the questions, "What have they really done?". Dump the social/religious issues and the Republicans may yet gain the majority again. Fail to do that and you will become even more insignificant as your party base begins to die of old age. -A Former Republican!

    November 15, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  7. informed voter

    This is suposed to be the party of fiscal conservatives who believe in minimal government intervention. Instead they are spending like drunken sailors and interfering in people's personal and religious choices.If you idiots want to remedy that by becoming more fanatical and clampdown on people's constitutional my guest and keep on losing.

    November 15, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  8. Dylan, Los Angeles

    Quit making McCain the scapegoat. YOU PICKED HIM. If the Republicans didn't like him why did you nominate him?

    The Republicans betrayed themselves. 8 years of the worst President is enough of clue.

    November 15, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  9. Mendemoi


    November 15, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  10. G

    I agree with Obama/Biden 08 Mccain was a good and challenging candidate until the GOP got a hold of him.

    November 15, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  11. karela

    Wow, I'm one of those independents that DeMint's party will have to win over if they ever hope to be elected again and I can tell you that I've had a belly full of people who think abusing the environment is the only path to success, and who think that most of us want a government based on Evangelical religious cultural values or that we want to hear any more from people who are afraid of skin that doesn't come in white. No wonder that only about 30% of the voting population is Republican! At this point, I wouldn't trust them if they said they were for all the things they're against because I'd think they were lying–again. What planet do they live on that they think most people what that religion shoved down our throats? Compared to DeMint, McCain was a possible and I couldn't bring myself to vote for McCain because he was still to mad and negative. Geesh!!!!

    November 15, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. Anna, Missouri

    As a recovering Republican that voted for Obama, I can say that if the Republicans continue down this road and refuse to change with the times, the party will not exist in 2012. Someone needs to step up and tell these idiots that we are leaving the party because of the evangelical right wing nut jobs that are taking over the party. McCain lost because he sold his soul to them and brought in Palin. If McCain of 2000 had been running, he would have won. He went against everything he stood for then, and picking Palin was the last straw for many of us that are old enough to remember the party before the neocons and evangelical nut jobs took over the party.

    November 15, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  13. G.

    Thanks mate DeMint has just proven why yet another person who falls in the center of the political scale has sided with the Democratic side. Hopefully by the next election the republicans will make it more difficult for me to choose.

    November 15, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  14. Steve

    McCain meesed up because he fought for campaign finance reform, basic rights for immigrants, tried to fight global warming, understood that there are other means of energy security besides drilling in Anwar, and tried to save our financial system. The republican party will be in good hands wih Jim Demint.

    November 15, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. Jason, Omaha

    So DeMint thinks McCain lost because he didn't display enough religious-based hatred?

    Can't wait to see that fail when DeMint attempts to run in 2012

    November 15, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  16. Heidi Preston

    Well that was a lip lashing that's meant to alienate the lingering Republicans into a us against them stance for their seats in two years.
    I have to admit I like Senator Demint's vote (nay) on the bailout but his colleague Senator Graham from south Carolina vote yea, lets hope he gave him the same kind of treatment. The Republicans lost because "Government that serves the self -interest of the rulers is tyrannical. Only government that promotes the good life of the ruled is good"- (source Aristotle for everybody)...Joe the plumber has nothing on me. Heidi the homemaker, LMAO

    November 15, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  17. Adrienne

    Iraq did the republicans in. 70% of americans think it was not worth it. Why they can't seem to figure that one out is beyond me.
    Needless war... and the SUV mind set. Big and dumb. That is what they have been selling. Big cars, Big homes, Big wars, Big talk, The bigger and dumber the better. When the republicans stop acting like big dumb cowboys.. they might get a clue.

    November 15, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  18. G.R.I.T - Girl Raised in the South

    What the hell do these people want from McCain? What are they thinking? You have got to be kidding me that he wasn't "conservative" enough. He chose the scariest, most ignorant and unprepared running mate to satisfy those nimwits. That was dangerous and could have cost our nation more than anyone could imagine. But that wasn't good enough for these right-wing fringe lunatics was it? Nope. What do they want? What they are going to get is the Anti-Christ if they aren't careful. Hypocrisy and the perversion of religion that these people support will lead to the rise of something we cannot survive.

    November 15, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  19. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Get "Deminted" a cane, rocking chair and "Farmer's Almanac." It is time for him to disappear and all those like him.

    November 15, 2008 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  20. GleemEyed

    "religious-based values"? Seems like they're already falling back into their same old rut. Good luck ole party. Us people with basic human decency will still be voting libertarian values until you get it figured out.

    November 15, 2008 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. karela

    ps: This CNN which might be expected to attract a cross section of American thought. I just read every comment on this post and every single one of us is appalled that this guy has no clue at all that we're all sick to death of hearing about their religion and their foul the earth programs. As Pawlenty said at the Republican Governor's Meeting yesterday, "Drill baby drill is not an energy policy." And forcing people to follow your religious values is not freedom. The Republican Party is so dead.

    November 15, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  22. Gorgegirl, White Salmon, Wa

    Religious based values????? Do family values have to be religious based? And, what about separation of church and state?

    Our forefathers came to this country seeking freedom of religion and all the Republicans want to do is to inject "Their definition of religion" into our government.

    No Thank you.

    November 15, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  23. Pat in IL

    The Republican party isn't really a definitive party any more, and hasn't been for a very long time. This is because they have been defined by lobbyists and special interest groups. They need to try to remember what they actually stand for and also that elected officials are public servants who actually try to what is best for the whole nation. Quit cow-towing to the special interests and man-up (or woman-up). and do your job. Then, just maybe, your party will gain some respect, cohesion and votes again.

    November 15, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  24. Dennis

    Wow, it sounds like DeMint has no clue why the Republicans are out of power. Let me get this straight...Americans wanted a conservative government, and when the Republicans didn't provide one...they turned to the Democrats for it? Yeah right.

    Americans want the country's problems solved: the economy, health care, mortgage crisis, an end to the war in Iraq, etc. The Republicans didn't have the best plan for those things. That is why they lost.

    November 15, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  25. Unshrub

    The GOP just doesn't get it. If McCain had followed the Republican principles he would have lost be a bigger margin.

    November 15, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
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